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BlogHer 2013: Chicago Redux

I am going back to Chicago for BlogHer.  Every time I’m in Chicago, I have this overwhelming urge to jump on a bus and go out to Madison, Wisconsin.  Isn’t that strange?  It’s almost as if Chicago only exists as a portal to take me someplace else; even though I didn’t get to Madison last time I was there in 2009, and I won’t get there this time either.

I’m doing Pathfinder Day again, which I’m super-excited about because I love talking about books and publishing.  The day also has a tendency to make a very large, very overwhelming conference feel cozy and small.  I’m also going to be conducting a one-on-one interview with Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services, so stay tuned for that post.  I’m really excited to get to talk about the Affordable Care Act with her, and if you have questions you’d like to float my way, I’ll try to ask them if I have additional time.

And then there is the main conference, which is always part amusement park and part school and part reunion and part speed dating session.  I have a lot of panels that I’ve marked down to attend (and feel free to grab my notes from them). I am excited to see ALI bloggers, and I’m excited in advance to meet anyone I meet.  It’s sort of like ordering Pad Thai from your favourite restaurant (those are the ALI bloggers) and the place throws in a random extra container of Pad See-aw (those are all the random people I meet).  You weren’t expecting the extra dish, but it’s delicious, as is the Pad Thai.

This is my sixth BlogHer.  Six BlogHers!  I still get weepy before I have to leave.  I was re-reading what I wrote the last time I left for Chicago, and I could have written it today:

I felt this overwhelming roll of sadness that started behind my eyes and moved down over my heart. Stilling me. I wanted to go and I didn’t want to go. I woke up several more times in the night, each time untangling my brain by reminding myself that I would be leaving in 6 hours. I would be leaving in 3 1/2 hours. I would be leaving in 2 hours.

The twins had a hard time separating this morning and I had a hard time separating this morning and I went to the plane feeling like I should be in two places at once. And then I took Ativan so I could board the flight without flipping out and then the Ativan kicked in somewhere over Ohio, and I felt calm with the idea that I was thousands of feet above the earth and again, this overwhelming sadness to be away from the twins that felt like it was crumpling up my inner layers. As if the inner layers had pulled away, lost their adhesion to the outer wall of the body, and now were crumpling and twisting and crunching themselves down.

I sound like a flaming nut-job.

I am a flaming nut-job, but I own that.  I’m a person who doesn’t love to leave home.  Ever.  And much less so when I have to do it without Josh and the twins.  But I really love BlogHer.  I don’t go to the parties, I don’t work with sponsors, I don’t get cool swag, I don’t even use my free drink tickets.  But I have an awesome time; just being with friends and meeting interesting people.  And then I get to come home and tell my family all about it.

So I’ll talk to you from Chicago.  And let me know if you have additional questions for Secretary Sebelius.  And if you are going to be at the conference, look for me.  I’m much shorter than you think, so look low.


1 Jen { 07.24.13 at 8:11 am }

Just a little shout-out from Madison 🙂 . I’m glad to hear you like it here too!

2 a { 07.24.13 at 8:31 am }

Why would you want to visit the land of the Cheeseheads anyway? 😉 Chicago as a portal to somewhere else…what am I going to do with you? SMH

If I didn’t have all of my summer plans packed into this weekend, I would drive up there just to meet you. Enjoy the conference – and hit the beach! And eat some good food…if I knew of a good kosher, vegetarian restaurant, I would send you there.

3 KeAnne { 07.24.13 at 10:22 am }

Have a great time! I’ll get to BlogHer someday.

4 Collette { 07.24.13 at 10:38 am }

I think the weather should be lovely here for this weekend. Try and enjoy the city a little–it’s pretty great. I am always up for telling people where to go (ha!) should you want direction.

Madison. Pffffttttt. 😉

5 Brid { 07.24.13 at 10:53 am }

Have fun, Mel!

6 Jamie { 07.24.13 at 11:09 am }

I’m feeling some of that sadness too. I’ve wanted to attend for years and now that it’s finally about to happen I’m second-guessing myself. I am sure it will be a great experience — but like you, I’m not thrilled about leaving my hubby and kids at home. Not to mention all of the unknowns are very overwhelming! Looking forward to meeting you on Thursday!

7 Carol E. Potaczek { 07.24.13 at 11:59 am }

I’m an attorney and a legal editor for an employee benefits print and online product, and, while I’m a huge fan of the ACA, there are some details even I’m not clear on.
Practically speaking, how’s the health insurance on the state exchanges/marketplaces going to work, premium-wise? It sounds like people are going to pay premiums through automatic deductions from their bank accounts, but what about people with little or no credit who can’t get bank accounts (the so-called “un-banked”)? Will they be billed by mail? What if they miss a premium? Will they be able to re-enter the system once their premium payments are up to date?
There’s an open enrollment period in the fall, but, if someone loses employer health insurance coverage after that, say, on February 15, 2014, and can’t afford their COBRA coverage, will they be able to sign up then, and will there be administrative services in place in the marketplace to help them do that?
In some states, there will be people who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but make too little to qualify for premium assistance (isn’t it between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level?). What would you suggest those people do for coverage?

8 Carol E. Potaczek { 07.24.13 at 12:02 pm }

I should have added “Welcome to Chicago” by the way. I was too excited about asking Secretary Sebelius ACA questions to think straight! It looks like our weather’s going to cooperate for you, so, if you get a chance, take a walk along the lakefront – it’s probably one of the best features of our city.

9 It Is What It Is { 07.24.13 at 12:25 pm }

First, shout-out to Chi Town. I love Chicago and wish, wish, wish, I could be at BlogHer this year. But, with a 7 mo old at home and my husband needing to be at work, there was just no way. I am JEALOUS in the best possible way, and look forward to the day that I will attend and get to meet some of my writing heroes.


10 missohkay { 07.24.13 at 1:10 pm }

Welcome to Chicago from someone who lives there but would also prefer to be in Madison, WI 🙂

11 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.24.13 at 3:19 pm }

Miss you 🙁

12 Pepper { 07.24.13 at 5:06 pm }

I love Chicago! And I share your dis-love for leaving home, especially with my family. I like that you own being a flaming nut-job because it makes me feel just a little bit better about my own flaming nuttiness.

13 missingmybabies23530 { 07.24.13 at 10:17 pm }

I love Chicago and Madison both, but Madison would always win in my mind! I visit our local farmers market each week during the summer but nothing tops Madison’s farmer’s market in the square! Hope your time in Chicago is fun and productive! /MMB

14 Kathy { 07.24.13 at 10:58 pm }

Can’t wait to see you in the morning! xoxo

15 Amy Elaine { 07.25.13 at 2:48 pm }

I have a dream that some day you will come back to Madison. Your kids need to see where you went to college!!!

16 Tiara { 07.26.13 at 8:21 pm }

“I am a flaming nut-job, but I own that.” Love it!! Hope you’re having a blast.

17 Shelby { 07.29.13 at 1:17 am }

One of my good friends went this year and we have since conspired that we will definitely both try to make it next year. I think it’s in NYC? Bestill my heart…

And, from one flaming nut job to another, I totally get not wanting to leave home, especially without the old man and kiddos. I always have horrible scenarios play in my head when I do it (don’t ask specifics–I will win the nut job contest on this one). I think an Ativan might be in order for me next time I do it!

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